Success Stories

Our partners have achieved great successes in public health. We recognize their hard work and leadership in creating healthier communities. We hope these stories inspire your work around place-based public health.

Gainesville Florida
Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco-Free Florida

Counter Tools has partnered with Florida since 2013 to survey the retail environment and spread awareness around healthy retail, and in more recent years the work has shifted focus to passing policies. In January 2019, Alachua County implemented a local tobacco retailer licensing policy, raised the minimum legal sales age for tobacco to 21, and required any new tobacco retailers to be located at least 1000ft away from schools.

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  • Map of retailers near schools
  • Map of tobacco retailers
Minnesota Department of Health

Counter Tools has partnered with Minnesota since 2012 to help support local areas in the state in their pursuit of policy change around tobacco. In 2019, the city of Golden Valley in Hennepin County, Minnesota passed a number of comprehensive tobacco prevention policies, including raising the minimum legal sales age to 21, banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, increasing tobacco product pricing, capping the number of tobacco retailer licenses issued, and more. In 2020, they passed additional regulations to restrict the location of tobacco retailers and their proximity to youth-oriented facilities. The use of local data, education efforts, and strong political and community support helped pass these policies.

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  • Reality Check protesters
  • Holding Marlboro sign
  • Group photo at protest
Reality Check

Reality Check empowers youth to become leaders and fight against the tobacco industry through grassroots mobilization and education. Counter Tools has partnered with Reality Check since 2015 and conducts training sessions to educate youth on tobacco and advocacy work through rallying at the annual Altria shareholder’s meeting.

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  • Virginia photo by Stephen Poore on Unsplash
  • Counter Act displayed in Rite Aid
  • Retailer density Chesterfield CSB
Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

Virginia and Counter Tools entered into a project in 2015 to create an accurate state-wide tobacco retailer list, utilizing data integration and ground truthing work. Deepening local understanding of the effect of the tobacco retailer environment on health enabled Virginia to develop a statewide infrastructure for tobacco use prevention and control.

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  • Checkout vegetable display
  • Wisconsin infographic example
  • WRAP overview sheet
Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Counter Tools has partnered with Wisconsin since 2016 to assist with data collection, provide understanding of data/trends, and support change related to tobacco, alcohol and food products in the retail environment. Wisconsin Department of Health Services implemented the Wisconsin Retail Assessment Project (WRAP) to increase knowledge about the retail environment, identify disparities, foster community awareness, and build public support towards interventions. Wisconsin serves as a good example of the importance of better understanding the retail environment through data collection, cross-sector collaboration in efforts, and increasing access to healthy products for the betterment of population health.

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Our Partners

Map showing partner states

Map markers

  1. ChangeLab Solutions
  2. Public Health Law Center
  3. Community Advocates
  4. American Lung Association
  5. CDC Office on Smoking and Health
  6. Charleston Center
  7. University of North Carolina
  8. University of Virginia
  9. Reality Check
  10. CADCA Geographic Health Equity Alliance
  11. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
  12. National Association of County & City Health Officials
  13. Truth Initiative
American Lung Association logo
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids logo
CDC logo
ChangeLab Solutions logo
Charleston Center logo
Community Advocates logo
GHEA logo
NACCHO logo
Public Health Law Center logo
Reality Check logo
Truth Initiative
University of Kentucky
UNC logo
University of Virginia logo

What Our Partners Say

“I can’t say enough how much I appreciate and value our partnership. We couldn’t be happier with the expertise, the TA, the software, everything. With your help, we have completely reinvented our Synar program and become one of the leaders across the state.”

Colleen Hughes, Prevention Specialist, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Development Services

“Counter Tools has been a great partner and assists in implementing a statewide POS effort. We value their expertise and contributions to our team.”

Cassandra, Minnesota Department of Health

“Counter Tools brings the expertise and education our youth need… The broader, deeper learning experience they provide gets our young people thinking Big Picture–about how they can get out and contribute to their local community AND change the world.”

Jonathan Chaffee, Reality Check

“They are thorough, responsive, and professional. Counter Tools staff is reliable and timely.”

Ian, South Carolina Tobacco Free Collaborative

In The News

PLOS ONE logo

July 16, 2021 | PLOS ONE

This study used regression models to determine if tobacco sales to minors violations across Virginia were related to store characteristics and neighborhood deprivation and identify geographic areas at significantly elevated risk for violations. Data for this study was based on the tobacco retailers and violations tracked using Counter Tools software tools POST and Store Mapper.

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Frontiers in Public Health logo

May 13, 2021 | Frontiers in Public Health

This study aimed to determine retail and neighborhood characteristics associated with smokeless tobacco (ST) product promotion, price promotion, and storefront advertising among retailers in Oklahoma. Project staff and OSDH partners attended a 2-day training provided by Counter Tools and collected retailer data via the Store Audit Center, an online survey platform created by Counter Tools. Findings of this study suggest there are currently ample opportunities for youth and adults at risk for tobacco initiation to be exposed to ST products in the retail environment.

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Journal of Cancer Education image

March 2, 2021 | Journal of Cancer Education

A UNC Chapel Hill study on tobacco prevention and cessation websites featured CounterTobacco.org, a project of Counter Tools. This study sought to identify existing websites that archive tobacco prevention and cessation media content and to characterize the content and features of those websites.

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Black Body Health podcast logo

February 16, 2021 | The Center for Black Health & Equity

Counter Tools staff member Mollie Mayfield shared insights in episode 15 of Black Body Health the Podcast to discuss how predatory practices and promotions affect the Black community – all for the sake of Big Tobacco’s profits.

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ABC17 Logo

January 22, 2020 | ABC17 KMIZ

The Columbia City Council of Missouri voted to take part in a pilot program to gather data on tobacco retailers in the city. This program, run by Counter Tools and Truth Initiative, aims to identify which retailers are selling tobacco and nicotine products within the community and if they are licensed, with the goal of informing future public health initiatives.

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Health Promotion Practice logo

January 7, 2020 | Health Promotion Practice, SAGE Journals

The Department of Public Health Education at UNC Greensboro conducted analyses of tobacco ads at local retail stores. Using Counter Tools software they identified a sample of stores in communities of high African American population. They found that ads in these communities “disproportionately employ misdirection messaging strategies that prey upon and may thus exacerbate existing vulnerabilities.”

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Truth Initiative report

December 11, 2019 |  Truth Initiative

Counter Tools partnered with Truth Initiative® on a pilot study using store assessment questions that focused on the sale of flavored tobacco products.

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CDC logo

June 25, 2019 | CDC Office on Smoking and Health

The Indiana State Department of Health’s tobacco control program was featured in Programs in Action by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health. Counter Tools helped train community organizations to study tobacco product availability and advertising in stores.

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Innovate Carolina logo

June 3, 2019 | Innovate Carolina

Counter Tools was featured in Innovate Carolina’s weekly newsletter, IN the Know, and gives an overview of the background of Counter Tools, our work, and partner successes. IN the Know shares interesting and inspiring news and updates about innovative and entrepreneurial activity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is where Counter Tools was founded.

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Partner News

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